Recently declassified information that a flight certificate of an Al Qaeda operative linked to 9/11 turned up in an envelope from the Saudi embassy in Washington is raising fresh questions about the Kingdom’s ties to the terror attack.
The certificate was for Ghassan al Sharbi, an extremist captured in Pakistan and sent to Guantanamo Bay. Al Sharbi, who went to flight school with the 9/11 hijackers but did not take part in the attacks, buried a cache of documents near where he was staying in Pakistan, “including an envelope from the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C. containing his flight certificate.”
The certificate and other revelations were laid out in a 47-page work plan prepared for the FBI in June 2003 but not declassified until last July. The documents sought to verify the credibility of an FBI informant “with whom 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar resided.” The hijackers, both Saudi citizens, crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
The documents list other prominent Saudis and potential links to the attacks, including:
Abdullah bin Laden – Usama bin Laden’s half-brother who had been assigned to the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C. as an administrative officer.
Hamad Alotaibi – Assigned to the Saudi Embassy Military Division in Washington D.C. and possibly visited by a 9/11 hijacker.
Mohammed Fakihi – A Saudi diplomat assigned to the embassy in Berlin. His business card was found in the possession of an associate of the hijackers in Germany.
Mohammed Al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan Al-Shalawi – Saudi students suspected of participating in a “dry run” for the 9/11 attacks during a 1999 flight. The pair said they were travelling to Washington D.C. to attend a party at the Saudi embassy and that the embassy had paid for their air fare.
The declassified document is gaining new attention as lawmakers are pressuring President Obama, currently visiting the Kingdom, to declassify the remaining 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report. Those 28 pages supposedly detail Saudi connections to the plot.